The Rise and Fall of the Brooklyn Nets’ Isaiah Whitehead

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 1: Isaiah Whitehead
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 1: Isaiah Whitehead /

Last season the Brooklyn Nets fell on dire times at point guard. Players like Isaiah Whitehead were brought in to the organization. Others were forced to step up to fill the void.

The Brooklyn Nets found themselves in a similar situation to where they were at the beginning of this season. They lost the two players they planned to play point guard early in the season due to injuries.  With both Jeremy Lin and Greivis Vasquez going down players were called upon that weren’t expected to be on the court.

The Nets brought in Spencer Dinwiddie from the G-League and were forced to play rookie guard Isaiah Whitehead. Dinwiddie got comfortable in the offense. He is in the middle of a breakout season as the starting point guard of the Nets. Whitehead not so much.

Isaiah Whitehead was a player that was destined to go to the G-League for refining upon being drafted. Injuries ahead of him forced him onto the court, where he did his best to prove to coach Kenny Atkinson that he belonged.

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Whitehead appeared in 73 games and averaged 7.4 points, 2.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds a game in 22.5 minutes a game. He showed that he is a player who is athletic and able to score in bunches. He forced the issue by driving to the basket frequently on offense. But his aggression was his strength and his weakness.

Being a young player, he was bound to make mistakes. But Whitehead has not been able to improve upon his weaknesses. His aggression helped the Nets stay in games last season, but he also had a lot of offensive fouls and turnovers because of it.

When the Nets needed a solid possession, if the ball came to Whitehead, he was apt to force the ball up on a bad shot. Late in a close game, there was a good chance that Whitehead would commit a bad turnover.

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He was given his nickname “The Cyclone” by YES Network announcing legend Ian Eagle. But he would go to the well too often. For every highlight spin move that he made, there was usually a turnover to go with it.

Don’t get it wrong, Whitehead became a fan favorite, and I enjoyed watching him play. But there were too many times when I found myself shaking my head at the decisions that he made. And obviously coach Atkinson and the Nets organization saw these deficiencies too.

This season Whitehead has only found his way into 10 games. He’s averaging 14.2 minutes per game with the rest of his stats being pretty similar to last season (7.6 ppg, 1.8 apg, 2.0 rpg). He’s spent most of time playing for the Nets’ G-League affiliate Long Island Nets.

This is even with the Nets being in a similar situation at point guard, with injuries to both Lin and D’Angelo Russell. The emergence of Dinwiddie and the growth of Caris LeVert as a reliable ball-handler, have forced Whitehead off of the big league roster.

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This may have always been the plan, and Whitehead may be a major part of the future. He has an enormous amount of skill and the grit that the Nets look for in a player. As of now, he will remain in the G-League where he can hopefully develop into a player we will see start many games for the Brooklyn Nets.